Week 3, and it's time for some SEC football on the Plains. 685 days have past since Auburn has won an SEC game, but I mean...who's counting? The Bulldogs will be visiting Jordan-Hare with a 1-1 record this year with the loss coming from a 21-3 drubbing against Oklahoma State in week 1, and the lone win from a massacre against Alcorn State in Starkville last week.
Your Auburn Tigers are 2/3 of the way there to reaching their win total from 2012, and I'm sure Danny Sheridan is livid. Before the season, Sheridan (Bammer) predicted that Auburn would be underdogs in every single SEC game this season. The Tigers are favored, last time I checked, by 6 points this week, and for good reason too.
Mississippi State, if you watched their week one game against the Cowboys, is right there with Florida in terms of offensive production, or should I say, lack of. On offense, the Bulldogs have what appears to be, one playmaker...LaDarious Perkins. In week one, Perkins showed the nation how hard of a runner he is capable of being, but a back can only achieve what his line allows. Perkins suffered an ankle sprain before last week's game against Alcorn State, and was forced to sit out....he has recovered since and is expected to play today. A storyline to look out for this week is the fact that the Bulldogs' quarterback situation is in complete shambles, as senior Tyler Russell suffered a concussion in week one, and the true-freshman, Dak Prescott, stepped in to fill the hole last week. Prescott led the Bulldogs to a punishing 51-7 victory over the Braves of Alcorn State, which leads the cowbeller's to wonder....who should start this week? Mullen, throughout the week, has spoken with media and confirmed that if Tyler Russell is healthy enough to play, he will play, which is probably the best bet as the experience will need to step up into the equation in the Bulldog's first SEC road game of the year.
On the other side of the ball, the defense, from what I could see, put a pretty good product on the field against Oklahoma State in week one, as they held a not too shabby Cowboys offense to 21 points. However, the Bulldogs did allow 286 yards on the ground against what's supposed to be a pass-heavy offense. It will be essential for Auburn to take advantage of State's defensive weakness by utlilizing all three backs, Grant, C-A-P, and Mason, to create space and free reign to hit the Dawgs with Nick Marshall's (newly found) long ball.
Speaking of Nick Marshall, all I've heard this week is how he's "drastically improved" and such because of the one long ball to Sammie Coates that he hit. Let me remind you that it took the kid two tries to hit Coates on that deep route, as earlier in the game they ran the same exact play and Marshall under-threw Sammie, and almost had the ball going the other way with an interception. Sure, Nick looked like one heck of an athlete on his feet, but we all had a pretty good sense of what to expect when the ball is put in his hands to keep. However, one aspect of his play that is still undetermined, at least to me, is his ability to place touch on his passes, especially in crucial, mid-yardage, third down situations. Nick seems to love to throw one pass throughout every one of his performances...the fastball. Don't get me wrong, this kid has one heck of an arm....just take a look at a throw he made last year in JUCO ball, where he threw the ball 75 yards for a touchdown. At this point, in what is now SEC play, it is crucial for Nick to find some touch on his passes to get it up and over some of the bigger defenders we're going to be dealing with in the future and meat of our schedule.
Every single year, for some reason, this game worries me. Possibly because it comes at a time of uncertainty, uncertainty for the season, as it's always the first SEC game of the year, and the kinks are still being worked out on both sides of the ball. Man, I want this one badly....and honestly, there's no reason why we should be losing to a team like Mississippi State and the Hunch-Back of Notre Dame. We own this team...we really do. They've beaten us two times since 2001 (2007, 2012), and the series record is highly in our favor sitting at (57-26-3). State isn't even the best team in Mississippi....Mississippi! Auburn will win this game...with or without Nick Marshall's arm, but instead, with the rushing attack once again reigning supreme for the Tigers, as we pull away and run wild in the second half.
Prediction: Auburn W 36-21
Now, where can I find a cowbell?